The Church Has Done it Again . . . but this time, it’s OK

The following is a guest post submitted by Shelley Branine, who tells of her experience being kicked out of church, and how that turned out to be a good thing.

“God told me that I have done nothing wrong.” A girl I once knew told me, her voice shaking in defense.

Really? I thought without emotion. Because he told me that you’re a complete idiot.

My husband and I shared this conversation with the people who kicked us out of our small, nondenominational church. Of course, church leaders rarely actually tell you when you’re being kicked out. They’re much more passive aggressive. Instead, they do things like call all of your friends and tell them that you’re a divisive gossip. They also abruptly remove you from all mailing distribution and correspondence. If you’re as naive as we were, they sit you down for two hours, forcing you to listen to an unending list of things they believe you’ve done wrong. And sometimes, they’ll even threaten you with “church discipline.”

The foundation crumbled when we started asking questions about how money was being spent and the lifestyle of some of the leaders doing the spending. We weren’t the only members wondering, just the only ones brave enough to ask. I was shocked to discover that such simple questions would cause so much anger, fear and defense. Our intention and demeanors were not harsh or critical. We simply and politely asked for answers.

So they kicked us out.

In the weeks that followed, I started asking more questions. Why are Christians the most malicious people I’ve ever met? And since meanness seems to come so naturally to them, do I really want to affiliate myself with that kind of cruelty? I also questioned the loving, all powerful God that I once thought existed and wondered why he didn’t pick better people to be his representatives. I didn’t understand how my unbelieving neighbors and coworkers could demonstrate more kindness and morality than those from my church. Until then, I never allowed myself to ask these kinds of questions because I always feared that leaving the church would be the worst decision I could ever make.

It turned out, however, that the worst decision ended up being the best.

In a scene from Mama Mia, one of my favorite Broadway shows, the mother tells her daughter the story of how her own mom disowned her when she was 17 and pregnant. Before the daughter in the show can begin to utter words of apology or pity, the mother firmly interrupts by saying, “And I’m better for it.”

Since leaving the church, I have learned to value people for who they are regardless of what they believe, without feeling like I need to “win them to Christ” and save them from their horrible selves. I’ve been able to simply enjoy a drink with a coworker without ridiculously talking religion and pressuring her into Christianity. I am free to sleep in on Sundays and no longer feel obligated to give my time and money to an organization. I can enjoy life, each moment, the simple things without cursing the hell bound world around me and then forcing myself to think heavenly thoughts.

One of the hardest days of my life was when I was yelled at for two hours by people I thought I trusted. And someday I hope to be able to shake the reality of being punished for simply asking questions. But regardless of all of the hurt feelings and confusion, I’m thankful, because I am better for it.

  • mikespeir

    So often, when the benefit of belief evaporates, so does belief itself.

  • JayKen Knotstirred

    “Welcome to the Real World.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PreAABChTyQ

  • http://jonmarke.blogspot.com JonJon

    If it would do any good, vorjack, I’d apologize for them. I’d even settle for distancing myself from them. Unfortunately, my own (too-extensive) experience with church politics prevents me from doing even that. Churches are nasty places with alarming frequency, and I understand that that’s the case as well as anybody. So I’ll just thank you for sharing, I suppose.

  • http://www.thechucklingmuse.insanitek.net Grace

    I find this to be a wonderful story that, despite the heartache within it, I hope is experienced by many the world over. It seems to be that most people need to learn to accept and love life by harsh lessons.

    Shelly, I wish you the best!

  • swmr1

    Great post. I was shaken out of my bubble of belief when I got uncomfortable also. I think experiencing a bit of dismay or a feeling of cognitive dissonance is almost essential to get believers to stop and examine their beliefs from any other perspective than church-fed dogma.

    Love the paragraph about your newfound freedom. I find myself watching people get ready for church on Sunday mornings and just being SOOO glad I’m not one of them anymore. And, isn’t it nice not to have to think of social interactions as “divine appointments” to share one’s faith. You can actually interact with people without an ulterior motive that way!

    • http://theascendancymemoirs.blogspot.com/ wazza

      well, without a religious ulterior motive…

      some of us are still not getting any :P

      • swmr1

        Yeah, but at least that’s your own ulterior motive rather than one being forced upon you :)

    • Noelle

      There is joy and freedom in doing one’s weekly grocery shopping without the encumbrance of crowds on a Sunday morning. Get there before 11 a.m. and you may navigate the aisles and compare the sales with ease. This is a wonderful thing.

      • swmr1

        Agreed!

      • UrsaMinor

        But sadly, you may not buy beer in New York before noon on a Sunday. I think that must be our one remaining blue law. I used to shop on Sunday mornings and I would have waste time and gas to make a second trip to the grocery store just so that the Christians could feel smug about preventing me from purchasing beer while they were in church.

        • vasaroti

          There may be a practical side to this law- I was told that it started as a religious thing, but was continued because law enforcement said that it broke up binges that started on Saturday night. I confess that I’ve been to a few parties that had to fizzle out in the wee hours of Sunday morning because there was no place to go get more booze. I think there is some law of physics that decrees no matter how much you stock up beforehand, it will all be gone by 2 a.m. Sunday.

        • http://theskippyreview.wordpress.com Skippy

          I had no idea that New York even had blue laws. Here in Greenville, SC, we cannot buy alcohol on Sunday–unless you’re in the city limits (the county is light-years behind the city…which is behind other large cities itself).

          • UrsaMinor

            Oh, yes. We had more blue laws in the past, but the ban on selling alcohol before noon on a Sunday is the last gasp. Up until 2010, it was still illegal for any liquor store to be open on a Sunday- but for the past umpteen years it has been possible to buy beer in the supermarket after noon.

            For the out-of-staters, our liquor distribution laws are kind of strange. Wine and liquor may only be sold in licensed liquor stores. Liquor stores cannot legally sell beer. Beer is available only in supermarkets or specialized beer retailers that serve the case and keg market. Wine coolers are generally sold in supermarkets, but I’m not sure whether or not they can be sold in liquor stores.

            The latest kerfuffle is the debate over whether or not supermarkets should be allowed to sell wine.

            • Skippy

              Wowza. Supermarkets here in SC, GA and NC sell wine. The kerfluffles around alcohol occur with clubs and such. There’s some byzantine restrictions on clubs and alcohol such that they have to have “memberships” in order to sell alcohol. It makes no sense.

            • UrsaMinor

              What can I say? Alcohol is a drug. Discussions about it are emotional, and laws concerning its distribution, sale and consumption are seldom made on a rational basis. The only really sensible one I can think of is “If you drink, you’re not allowed to drive.”

              I find the argument “But if you let supermarkets sell wine, it will put independent wine sellers out of business!” to be without merit. No one worries about the fact that independent sellers of, say, breakfast cereals or canned vegetables or pasta or candy cannot compete against supermarkets and are therefore largely absent from New York. I mean, just think of the small business opportunities we could create if we banned supermarkets from selling these commodities! Entire classes of small retail business have been stifled in NY!

              If this suggestion sounds silly to anyone, then they probably shouldn’t be so quick to criticize wine sales by grocery stores either. That’s my take on it, anyway.

            • Tee

              This is why I enjoy living in a country where beer is in vending machines. ha ha

  • Bill

    Thanks for sharing this.

    One of the first cracks in the foundation of my belief happened when my wife and I received a letter from our minister expressing that we had not been donating enough money to the church. We were newly weds, and of very very limited means at the time. Getting that letter hurt and confused us. I understand where you are coming from.

    Unfortunately it tooe years before the foundation completely crumbled. I agree with you though, I am much better for it.

    • Mike

      Part of my own awakening was actually the other way around. I had been donating (“tithing”) pretty heavily even though I always felt that many of the more established members of the church regarded me as a bit less of a christian than they were, so it was when I saw a copy of the church accounts and after doing a little arithmetic realised that (despite the fact that most had higher income-levels than mine) on average those same people who acted as though they were so holy contributed only small change.

      Those holy-joes committed neither spare-time nor funds, and I began to see myself as a mug.

      I still felt committed to the central figure of the New Testament, but I could no longer see that as anything to do with belonging to a church.

      In fact, since then my life seems to have followed the teachings and example of JC rather than the requirements of those who claim to represent him officially. I no longer “worship” or pray or anything, but I concentrate much more on what I can do for other people (aka “loving my neighbour”), many of whom I would not even have known about if all my time and money had been focussed on a church.

  • Justin

    Can Christianity exist without community? That’s really the question being posted here. And to the unfortunate reality check of the writer no it cannot. Community and the Christian faith are intertwined. Just as God himself I’d community the church itself is community. It really is a shame that our individualistic society has poisoned the gospel and people against each other. You cannot be a Christian on your own scripture speaks to this, on more than one occasion when it refers to fellowship being needed (not to mention every NT letter that was written with the excetion of Philemon, Titus, and 1&2 Timothy was written o communities not indivdual people). This is not to say that people need to go to church as it’s classically understood, but people must be in community with other Christians for edification and encouragement in the faith. It breaks my heart to hear that this person thinks that she no longer needs her fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Because to deny her brothers and sisters in Christ is as if Christ as part of the God head denied the father and the Spirit. To deny the church is to deny yourself, which is ultimately self mutilating. I will be praying for Shelly and her husband that God convince them that community in Christ is a necessary factor in being a Christian.

    • swmr1

      Because unless you have a group of people peer-pressuring you into believing drivel, you might question it on your own? Yeah.

      • Justin

        No, because only in honest community can a person ask those questions and not come to some hair brained individualistic conclusion. Community forces people to think beyond themselves (when it’s true community). I’m not condoning what her church did, it was evil and malicious and God will deal with them but just because a very small group did you harm and has faults does not mean those faults can be attributed to a whole people. Your not speaking to someone without questions. Believe me I have more questions that most Christians but my faith is not anchored in my indellect or my ability to understand God. It’s based in something completely foreign to most intellectuals. Faith. Sure most intellectuals know about it they can define it, but they scoff and mock it as foolish superstition. And that’s fine but it is faith even in the midst of questioning and doubting for that matter that keeps me in Christ. So community is not meant to brainwash you it’s meant to be a help to you, at least honest loving community does this.

        • swmr1

          Believe me I have more questions that most Christians

          You don’t ask enough or the right questions, IMO. But, that is largely because you haven’t come to a place in your faith where you are dismayed enough or uncomfortable enough to even want to do so. Want to get there? Go on full-time staff with a ministry for a few years. Raise support. See what lurks behind the curtain of the evangelical machine for awhile. Really read your bible–the whole thing–many times through. Let the verses (where god murders and is a sexist pig) sink in. Think about things with your own individual brain for a moment without letting the church tell you what to think.

          You won’t do this. You won’t because you know your (precious) faith might not survive the scrutiny of an individual.

          • Justin

            Hahaha I have done all of this. I have a bechelors degree in biblical studies with a minor in biblical languages. I’ve read all of the text as well as most extra biblical sources out there. Your not speaking to a hodunk Christian. Your speaking to an academic with years of real ministry experience. I’m not saying there aren’t problems with the evangelical church sure there is, and do we do some pretty abhorrent things yup, but guess what we’re human. Humans are as Dr. Cox from Scrubs says, “Bastard covered bastards with badstard filling.” We are completely and totally evil. So Christians aren’t perftect they make mistakes and claim to do things in God’s name that are foolish and contrary to his nature, this is just evidence of their immaturity. Any Christian that tell you they’re perfect is a liar, and to be honest isn’t a Christian. Christians understand how flawed and fallen they are and we know there are pretenders in the church masquerading and Christians but being divisive and gossip driven. We are not perfect, but then again neither are atheists so I guess we’re really all in the same boat. We just have a diffent answer as to how to fix that problem than you do.

            • swmr1

              So you just aren’t uncomfortable with the bullshit then. I was. That’s what made me ask the hard questions. The fact that you can easily brush the bullshit aside and make excuses for it shows you haven’t really been hurt by it.

            • Justin

              Oh I’ve been hurt by it. Try being told by the pastor at the church you’ve grown up in and served in that your dangerous and too proud for ministry all because I was unwilling to be a sheep, and follow him at his discretion. I’ve been hurt by it believe me. I just understand where it comes from and decide to forgive them because that’s what Christ would have done. They know how I feel about what they’ve done and they now know they were wrong. I stayed after that and proved to them (the church leadership) just how wrong they were. I scrubbed toilets, I cleaned up after puking babies and children and poopie diapers. These were things I did to prove to them that I was not as proud as they thought and that I didn’t consider myself better than anyone like they did. They’re hypocrisy was shown evident and they repented especially when everyone else in the church saw it and demanded that the leadership apologize to me. I know how it works, I do not come from a place of ignorance. I just know how to live within the contradiction. It’s far from comfortable, but living amongst imperfect people rarely is.

            • Olaf

              Justin, can you understand that atheists do not have any believe whatsoever?
              I am not referring to people that were Christian and are fighting against it by becoming atheist. I am referring to people that did grow up with no believe and do not require one to have a very happy and successfully life.

              Since you are an bible expert can you tell what parts are flawed in the bible and why? Do you know parts in the bible that would actually disprove a god?

            • Justin

              I can tell you of parts that I would rather be one way or another, but there is no place in scripture that disproved God. The entire book is enveleoped in God, who he is and what he has done in time and space. If you are such an atheist that you are a minority (at least in my experience). Most atheists I come across are either former Christians or former threists, who after a traumatic experience or some really poor mentoring come to become atheists. This however is just my experience so for atheists like you this might be true, but for most that I have seen it is not.

            • UrsaMinor

              Justin, it is clear that you have taken it as an axiom that the Bible cannot disprove God. There is no point in anyone discussing that position with you.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              “I have a bechelors degree in biblical studies…”

              Could God create a degree so fundamentally useless that not even He could get a job with it?

            • Justin

              Hahaha I hope not.

            • mudplanet

              “I have a bechelors degree in biblical studies with a minor in biblical languages” = I know nothing about science, art, god, spirituality or anything useful, I can’t have an intelligent discussion about evidence and proof, but I can recite by rote passages from the book of fairytales.

    • Bill

      “Just as God himself I’d community the church itself is community. ”

      Please present your evidence:

      1. for the existence of this “god”

      2. supporting the argument that he/she is “community” (and you might want to begin by defining both god and community.)

      • FO

        You silly!
        God can be any abstract concept you wish it to be! ^_^

        • http://theskippyreview.wordpress.com Skippy

          So true! Just get a bunch of theologians who specialize in identity politics together and watch the fanwanking fly! Why, it makes a sci-fi/fantasy convention look positively amateur by comparison.

    • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

      So… In order to be Christian, one must accept that one’s tithes are to be used to keep the leaders of one’s church in a lifestyle of obscene luxury? A True Christian (TM) will never question it when, say, a deacon of the church whose income is from tithes buys themselves a brand new Mercedes out of church funds? Hmmm. Hey, Justin – Where does your income come from? Call it my need to know.

      • Justin

        No. If a church is doing that leave. Find somewhere else to go. I was the founder and CEO of a ministry a few years back. We were an ecumenical ministry meaning we worked with many different denominations. I was at a church we had been working with in a poverty stricken area of Detroit and the gentleman I had been working with wanted me to meet his Bishop. But when I saw he was wearing Armani, and drank from a golden rimmed cup I left, and had nothing to do with them again. There are decisions that can be made to keep ourselves from such hypocrisy. Here this guy was in a poor area of Detroit (which is pretty much all of Detroit now unfortunately) and he was claiming to be a minister to these people stealing from them and wearing Armani and drinking from a golden rimmed cup. I was infuriated. And so I left and never went back. Choices it all comes down to choices.

        • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

          So instead of doing something about it, you wimped out and let him keep on thieving? Did your faith give you the strength to do that? Would Jesus not have turned them out of the church, one way or another? Hmmmmmm.

        • http://patheos.com RickRay1

          Justin, I was wondering if you have ever visited the site known as “The Clergy Project”? Listen to what ex-preachers have to say about religion. Then make a comment about them. Also, look up Dan Barker who was in the ministry for 19 yrs. and read his book, “Godless”. You might also want to visit http://www.FFRF.org

      • Justin

        I work for the state of Michigan as a social worker, and how about you?

        • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

          Is my Gravatar not a slight clue?

    • http://godconfusion.blogspot.com Xanthe Wyse

      Justin, I spent some time in the religious forums on Hubpages. Plenty of christians on there that don’t go to church. Many call themselves ‘non-denominational’.

  • Justin

    Community as in God as defined by the Christian faith is Trinitarian. God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three persons making up God are in a perfectly complete and loving relationship within themselves. Therefore they are community. As for evidence, if you are looking for scientific empirical evidence I have none. But this theology of God makes perfect sense in that we as being made in the image of God also crave relationship with one another. This website being perfect proof of that sentiment.

    • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

      I often have a perfect, loving relationship with myself. Does that make me a God?

    • UrsaMinor

      I’m sorry, but the definition that you just put forth here for ‘community’ doesn’t appear to have anything to do with human communities. Not even one single point of tangency.

      • Bill

        Ursa shoot…Ursa scores!

        Try again Justin.

      • Justin

        Well I was putting forth an abstract example of what the goal of human communities should be, but for something more tangible here you go. We are to love each other unconcditionally, always trusting, and always having hope that those we are in relationship with will do the right thing. We are to be sacrificial willing to give everything of ourselves to the other, regardless of how deserving of it they are. This is true community, where people don’t demand their own way but are willing to compromise in order to edify and encourage other people. Real Christian relationship is not about self, it’s about other people. The problem is that we as humans can’t live like this, because we are too selfish. All we can do is try the best that we can to live this way, and hope that in the trying we honor God. Like I said faith is beyond most who write or comment here because you are unwilling to give up control. You are unwilling to let go, and trust something bigger than you. Does some OT verses regarding the slaughter of children and women bother me and my 21st century sensibilities… Yes. But then I come to this, who am I? If God really exists than who am I to question his intentions? What arrogance gives me the write to question the actions and intentions of someone so much more than me? These are question that need to be asked and yet these are questions refuse to ask. What is more difficult? Asking the tough questions and realizing that you aren’t big enough or smart enough to have the answers (which is very irritating). Or stomp your feet and throw a temper tantrum because you didn’t get the answers you wanted and so decided that if God didnt fit your image of who he should be than he wasnt God at all? I don’t think I’m the one in need to asking the tough questions no offense.

        • Jabster

          Oh please … just how fucking boring can one person be. I’ll put it to you simply, it comes down to evidence. You’ve got none so stop with the bullshit about temper tantrums and deciding that god wasn’t god. It’s a bunch of bollocks and deep down you know it*

          *Isn’t it annoying when someone you’ve never meet claims to know what you think?

        • UrsaMinor

          This is true community, where people don’t demand their own way but are willing to compromise in order to edify and encourage other people.

          This sounds remarkably like a world that many atheists would embrace, especially those in the Eupraxsophy movement. It does not require the existence of a supernatural overlord.

          I will agree, humans are not perfect, and seldom live up to their own ideals. That we must try to honor your God because of this is a non-sequitur.

          I can’t even pretend to understand the insistence on the importance of faith- i.e., belief without evidence. There are many schools of religious philosophy that posit the existence of many supernatural beings for which there is no evidence. Why do you have faith in the Christan trinity? What basis do you have for picking it over any of the alternatives? Why is your faith in your deity justified, but the faith of a Muslim or a Hindu not?

          • Justin

            It’s funny because to a Christian the proof is in the pudding. Let me explain. In Romans 1 Paul writes that anyone who looks at creation and doesn’t come to the recognition that God exists is well…a moron. That’s actually what he says. So to Christians the world is proof that God exists. This is called natural revelation. God reveals hmself through creation and so we believe him to exist. With the advent of modern science and a couple of theories there are now ways for atheists to conveniently escape this truth, but it does not keep it from being true.

            • UrsaMinor

              There is no substance to that argument at all. “Anyone who doesn’t see it this way is a moron” is not even an argument. It’s an admission that you don’t even have an argument.

              Suppose I were to show you some bit of scripture from a non-Christian religion that made the same statement regarding its own deity. Would you accept it as being true?

            • Justin

              Hahaha, no. But I have to be honest to my tradition. I’m just telling you where Christians come from. To be honest though atheists don’t have much to say either. God doesn’t exist because I can’t figure him out is not much of a argument either. Just saying.

            • UrsaMinor

              OK. So if an argument supports your particular religion, you accept it. If the same argument also supports somebody else’s religion you reject it, but only as it applies to that other religion. Got it.

              God doesn’t exist because I can’t figure him out is not much of a argument either.

              I have no evidence for God’s existence, so trying to figure him out doesn’t even come into play. You don’t get it, do you? I am not an atheist because I don’t want to believe in God, and I do not take it as an axiom that God does not exist. I am an atheist because because I have seen no evidence for God (at least none that rises above the level of Santa Claus, Thor and the Easter Bunny). The moment I see credible evidence, I will change my position.

              In other words, if I’m wrong, there is hope for me finding the truth because I’m willing to change my mind. If you’re wrong, there is no hope, because you are not willing.

            • Justin

              Good than look at the world around you evidence given. Welcome to the faith.

            • Justin

              I know God exists because I have a relationship with him. I know him, in the same way you know a friend. So your last statement to evidence being able to dissuade me from God is completely true. I’m not going to turn my back on someone I talk to and look at everyday because your definition or perspective of certain facts might imply that he doesn’t exist. Like I said this goes beyond empirical evidence, something atheist cannot understand. And like I said before mock me if you want thats fine, it doesn’t offend me.

            • Jabster

              @Justin

              Are you going for the hat trick in what stupid things believers say?

              Carry on the good work …

            • UrsaMinor

              Justin, the only reason that I would mock you is because you insist that arriving at the truth through internal, subjective experiences only works for you and the other followers of your religion. You trot it out as if it’s the final word, and yet if somebody from a different religious belief system offered you the exact same argument to support their point of view, you’d laugh at them.

            • Jabster

              @Ursa M

              He really does deserve to be mocked for using the look around you argument as evidence for his particular version of a creator god. How on earth someone believes it’s any evidence for a creator god let alone their version of god has always baffled me.

              Of course he’ll probably use this is what the Bible says this would happen therefore the Bible’s true next …

            • Jabster

              @Justin

              Hope you’re still there Justin as me and a few mates have a sweepstake on what stupid thing you’re going to claim next … do me proud as this could net me £50.

            • TrickQuestion

              “I’m not going to turn my back on someone I talk to and look at everyday”

              I have, often, if they are a destructive or simply an intolerant, racist, sexist, slavery-loving, baby killing,demanding, sociopathic, murdering, abusive, petty, jealous, hypocritical, and schizophrenic bastard who are unwilling to change, and don’t have to because people make excuses for them all the time. yeah, I’ve dropped those sorts of individuals from my life, and it’s better for it.

            • Justin

              You guys really don’t get it. So let me say it again you are incapable of understanding faith. It is because of this that you mock and scorn and say all sorts of well stupid things that you will be made to regret later. For my part I am finished with this conversation. It is quite evident to me that this particular group of atheists are incapable of intellectual conversation apart from name calling, and putting someone’s ideas down. Your so puffed up with self-importance and pride that you couldn’t see beyond your own ideas or beliefs (because that is ultimately what you hold to whether you get that or not). Atheism is a religion your just too blind to see that. But enough from me, let the verbal abuse and attacks continue as it shows how absolutely wrong you all are.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              Vicarious threats of God’s (presumably loving) righteous vengeance, lack of faith is the same as faith, claiming you’ve been persecuted for your beliefs because people refuse to blindly accept them as the truth, followed by claiming a victory you haven’t won and running away. The perfect Argument Ad Christianity.

              @ Jabster: Did that win you your sweepstake?

            • swmr1

              Calling your beliefs baseless is not mockery. Saying your faith in Jesus is no different than Tom Cruise’s faith in Scientology is not name calling. Quit being so ultra-sensitive and make an intellectually compelling case for your beliefs!

            • swmr1

              I particularly like the part where we’ll be made to regret our heretical statements later. That bloodlust lurking, just waiting until we all fry in hell for eternity, is such a lovely christian sentiment, isn’t it?

            • Bill

              “I know God exists because I have a relationship with him.”

              Can you tell me how you know you have a relationship with him. Does he physically appear to you? Voice in your head? Feelings?

            • Sunny Day

              Let me explain. In Romans 1 Paul writes that anyone who looks at creation and doesn’t come to the recognition that God exists is well…a moron.

              If this were true then I’d expect such a world to spawn only one religion. Since there isn’t, Paul is either a moron or a liar.

          • TrickQuestion

            Indeed, it must be us who are incapable of understanding, because “heaven” forbid you might possibly be in the wrong.

            Pot, meet kettle.

            Not agreeing with you is not the same thing as not having an intelligent conversation.

        • cjmybad

          Justin you said ” We are to love each other unconcditionally, always trusting, and always having hope that those we are in relationship with will do the right thing. We are to be sacrificial willing to give everything of ourselves to the other, regardless of how deserving of it they are. Real Christian relationship is not about self, it’s about other people” Really?? That’s bullshit! We are living proof that’s not the christian way – we were believers at one time and we opened a business with some christians we trusted – big mistake!
          They never did the ‘right thing’ as you suggested, they did not give anything to anyone else unless it was what they wanted . We almost lost EVERYTHING because of them. We are not naive or trusting any more and we are no longer christians! So many of them are hyprocrites and we want nothing to do with religion or your bible god any more and we are much happier. BTW – they asked for forgiveness and have a clear conscience no matter how much damage they left behind! But they sing in the choir every week – what a joke christians are!

          • UrsaMinor

            Justin has left the building, but if he were still around, I’d say cue the “No True Scotsman” defense in three…two…one…

  • swmr1

    If God really exists

    Ah, that’s the big assumption you’re making right there.

    Why are you so willing to decide that you can’t find answers because you are incapable? Because you cannot accept that you can’t find answers because there are none.

    • Justin

      I look at the world around me and figure there is still a lot we don’t understand. I find not understanding the answers as apposed to there not being any more probable. Even scientists admit that there is much that we still do not know, and cannot understand. We still don’t understand the human brain something that is within us everyday. So how are we to understand perfectly a God beyond us? I fear you are unwilling to admit that you do not understand because to admit that is to admit that you are not the one in control of your own life. Which to a person without faith is a very scary thing to admit.

      • swmr1

        You are the one claiming to have the (One True) Answer to all questions. What evidence do you have for this “answer” aside from faith (your desire for it to be true)?

        • Justin

          What answer do you have other than well no answer. Your think your lack of an answer means no answer but it doesn’t. My answer comes from faith and from living a life that has revolved around Christ. It comes from experience and humility. I am stating that God has the answers but I never once stated that I have the answers. I am human I have but a few answers and the rest I give to God in hopes that he might answer some of them one day. Faith is what it is. You can mock it all you want, but it doesn’t change reality. I look at the world and science for that matter and conclude that God must exist. You look at the world and science and conclude the exact opposite. It’s really about perspective, whose is right whose is wrong. From. Where I’m standing atheists are the new kids on the block. The human community at the large over all of time have known that something out there bigger than us exists, so instead of demanding proof from me. How about I demand proof from you. Where is the emirical evidence that God doesn’t exist other than you not wanting him to?

          • Bill

            “My answer comes from faith”

            You do realize the “faith” means beliving things without evidentiary support right?

            • Justin

              It’s funny because I’ve been asking what proof there is that he doesn’t exist and I haven’t heard anything back yet so…. I guess we’re all in the same boat. You just decide to say he doesnt exist by faith.

            • Jabster

              “I guess we’re all in the same boat.”

              If you’re grade-A thick then yes you would believe that …. *check other posts by Justin* …. ohhhhh I see the problem now.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              NO WE DON’T! We refuse to say that he does exist by faith. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence – And there’s no conscious choice involved at all. We don’t “refuse”. People like you don’t convince us, and we’re not gullible enough to believe in wild claims without proof. Do you choose not to believe in Allah, or does the stroy of a 57 year old illiterate paedophile camel trader who flew to heaven on a winged horse and got dictate the Q’ran just not convince you? Well then. Get out of your bubble of delusion.

            • MahouSniper

              What proof is there that Shiva doesn’t exist? Hmm? I’m waiting. Oh well, I guess you better become a Hindu then because you can’t disprove their god.

              See how stupid that is?

      • jeebusthnxuranasshle

        @justin….if your beliefs weren’t based in hatred you would be an amusing little person…..it is apparent that you have some education…therefore I would ask that you really think about all of the despair, death and suffering that has been perpretated by your archaic system of belief.

        …but you have a relationship with the perpretator…he gives you comfort right???? AAARRgggHH…JUSTIN YOU ARE A SHEEP….ba ba bhhhaaa bababa.

        now goo pray for a cadillac or something. I am going to go help some people!!

        • Jabster

          “therefore I would ask that you really think about all of the despair, death and suffering that has been perpretated by your archaic system of belief.”

          That was caused by Satan, humans, hamsters, sun spots …really take your pick. One thing that it wasn’t by was his god. I mean really how on earth can the creator of the universe take any blame for his creation … that’s just absurd isn’t it?

          p.s. The good bits … that’s all down to him.

  • swmr1

    Where is the emirical evidence that God doesn’t exist other than you not wanting him to?

    You’re really new here, aren’t you? Where is your empirical evidence that pink unicorns (or Thor, Zeus, leprechauns or Santa Claus) don’t exist, other than you not wanting them to?

    • Justin

      Hahaha ok so I can see this is getting us no where. And by the way Thor exists I just watched a movie about him lol. Seriously though to Christians you guys sound every bit as ridiculous as we do to you. And if we’re going to sit here and banter back and forth with no honest dialogue than I’m afraid my part in this conversation is over. I find that atheists and most Christians for that matter are incapable on honest open dialogue because of what they might find. And that’s understandable, but let’s have some respect for one another. You thinkj I’m an idiot for the fact that I have faith in something that’s ok. I think your not to bright for ignoring whats right in front of your face it is what it is. Your line of reasoning just doesn’t make sense. You want me to provide proof of what I believe and you don’t expect me to ask the same of you? I’m not the one with the burden of proof here you are. 94% of the world believes theres something out there. Only 6% does not. Since when does the minority dictate anything? Your in the minority here not me.

      • UrsaMinor

        Justin, swmr1′s question is a perfectly honest and valid one. And I have never seen a theist yet who has been willing to answer it. They always run from it.

        • Justin

          As do you, I’ve never once met an atheist willing to answer the question. The reality is it’s NOT an honest question. It’s a question meant to maneuver me to a certain position to gain a certain outcome. It’s a good debating style but really antithetical to honest conversation.

          • Jabster

            Nice deflection and nice proving of what Ursa M just posted. Well done Justin, well done indeed Jesus would be so proud of you.

            I’ll pray for you …

          • UrsaMinor

            I’m not going to run from the question. I’m going to call your bluff.

            I don’t believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn because there is no evidence for her.
            Likewise, I don’t believe in Thor or Zeus or leprechauns because there’s no evidence for them.

            You are dismissing the question as dishonest precisely because answering it would put you in an awkward position. Your argument is, essentially, that we should believe in things for which we lack empirical evidence of non-existence. That covers a lot of territory, territory where you fear to go. The smart thing to do is to retract the argument once you realize that it supports only to your particular religion, but every other religion as well.

            • UrsaMinor

              That should be “not only your particular religion”.

            • TrickQuestion

              I am extremely social phobic as well as bipolar. I decided that i didn’t like the way i was, so i started going out more, and got help. Didn’t take faith to make me have a positive change in my life.

            • Justin

              Where’s my proof? Ok here’s my proof. My father has been a proud arrogant jackass his entire life by some miracle he comes to Christ and he has become one of the most gentle, wise, and good men that I have ever met in my life. I have a friend whom I now call brother who was addicted to crack, heroine, alcohol, and meth. When he came to Christ he stopped them all cold turkey and had no withdrawal symptoms. He went from being violent and horrible to loving and understanding. And then there is myself. I went from a pornography addiction, to preaching this foolishness as you’d call it, now married and living a life that I could have only dreamed about years ago. That is my proof, because God impacts real people where they are. There is your proof, I’m not one to shy away from difficult questions I was merely hoping to not be the only one presenting evidence but I am, but I am the one who has evidence to give as it seems.

            • swmr1

              So, do you accept the Muslim, Mormon or Wiccan who argues the same? How about the Scientologists? How about the hundreds of testimonials about herbal remedies for numerous maladies that have been proven not to work? What about those who’ve claimed alien abductions and how those have influenced theirs and others’ lives? I suppose that’s evidence enough for you to believe they are true? It should be if you are going to argue that your experiences are evidence enough for anyone else.

            • swmr1

              Do me a favor: Google “Scientology has saved my life” and see how many people claim to have been delivered from far worse than jackass-ery or pornography addiction…

            • Jabster

              @swmr1

              “So, do you accept the Muslim, Mormon or Wiccan who argues the same?”

              Well of course not what a ridiculous thing to say. You should only believe things without evidence when they back your own faith – don’t ask me why, but you just should. Hope that clears things up for you.

            • UrsaMinor

              I don’t even know where to start with. You are implying that these sorts of things never happen to people of other faiths, or of no faith.

              This is the third time that you have made an argument for your case of a sort that you yourself would reject if it came from anyone who wasn’t Christian or implied the validity of any religion other than Christianity.

            • swmr1

              @ Jabster:

              Well of course not what a ridiculous thing to say. You should only believe things without evidence when they back your own faith – don’t ask me why, but you just should. Hope that clears things up for you.

              Oh! How silly of me! Thanks for the clarification.

            • Jabster

              @swmr1

              Having never been a believer I just don’t understand how someone can do this type of mental gymnastics so it doesn’t dawn on them just how utterly ridiculous this type of thinking is. The best one is when they start mocking other religion’s beliefs as so obviously untrue.

            • swmr1

              @Jabster:

              I hear you–my husband often marvels at how I could have ever believed all this crap. I do too, actually. I think, when you are in the throes of the emotional side of it (and you are living in what I consider a christian-bubble type atmosphere), you don’t question. I mean, why would you? You’re comfortable and can think that an invisible entity is in love with you, will protect you, etc. When you have doubts or questions you deflect them with the “I just must not understand god and his mysterious ways” because any other answer would threaten your state of comfort. It’s only when that comfort is truly disrupted that you have any motivation to look at things from any other paradigm than the Jesus bubble.

            • jeebusthnxuranasshle

              when ure all by yourself remember that your jeebus is watching!!!!!

              he hates it when you touch your penis. it offends him!! lol

      • Bill

        “I’m not the one with the burden of proof here you are. 94% of the world believes theres something out there. Only 6% does not. Since when does the minority dictate anything? Your in the minority here not me.”

        Really – this is where you want to go with this? Majority rule dictates “truth.” Are you going to feel that way when Muslim’s out number Xians world wide? Will you suddenly come to realize Allah as the one true god?

        May I suggest, that the burden of proof lies with the party making a positive claim. Thus, if I tell you I have a magic flying car, it is perfectly reasonable for you to say: “Oh really, can I please see it because as far as I know no such thing exists.”

        Likewise, if you say I have a magic father figure in the sky, who’s also his own son and a ghost, who loves me unconditionally but will send me to a place of eternal suffering for being how he allegedly made me; a perfectly reasonable response is: “Prove it.”

        • Justin

          Hahaha the fact that something has existed greater than us has been around a very long time. It is not the positive claims that a required to bring the burden of proof but the new ones. If Darwin marched in London proclaiming natural selection is true because he didn’t want to believe in God with absolutely no evidence of it would he not be laughed out of the city? No my friend the burden of proof lies with the new kids on the block (that would be you) not with those of us who’ve circled the block more than a few times.

          • Jabster

            Honestly get a lesson in how things work before you make youself look even more stupid than you already have …

          • swmr1

            You do realize that Jesus-followers were once the new kids on the block, don’t you? By that reasoning, you do have the burden of proof to the millions of religious believers who existed before Jesus. I’m afraid you think that non-belief is a new religion. I’d venture to guess that there have been non-believers as long as there has been any kind of religion.

            You do need to prove what makes Jesus the only truth if you want to make that claim.

          • UrsaMinor

            Argumentum ad populum is dangerous. If majority determines religious truth, then Zeus was true 2000 years ago, Christianity has only been true for the past few hundred years, and Islam is going to be true in about 2030. You can expect Hinduism to be true by the end of the century, if current population trends continue.

            • Justin

              Your missing my point. If it isn’t true prove it, if you can’t than be still. Christianity has existed for 2000 years through all sorts of stuff it will survive atheism. Any question you’ve asked we’ve asked. Any answer you have we can combat. Your not going to win, try as you might. This is my last post in this interesting website. Have fun making fun of me more, as I’m sure you all will.

            • swmr1

              You come here to argue that you are right and we are wrong and you take everything we say as us making fun of you? What a lame attempt at playing the victim!

              Christianity is on the decline if you haven’t been paying attention. It doesn’t help that people like you accuse those of us with good questions and good arguments against your position of attacking and making fun of you. Grow up.

            • UrsaMinor

              And you’ve missed our point. If it is true, prove it. If you can’t, don’t expect us to convert.

            • Malvond

              “Seriously though to Christians you guys sound every bit as ridiculous as we do to you.”

              Justin, that was the most lucid thing you’ve said in this whole thread, but unfortunately I don’t think you realize it. The reason you’re hitting a brick wall here is that you believe that people here simply can’t understand faith—you said it yourself. While that argument might hold up for about five minutes with someone like me—one of those people who did actually grow up without religion—you’re forgetting the premise of this entire website. Many, if not most, of the people here know your faith intimately. They’ve lived it, they’ve preached it, and they’ve defended it. There’s probably nothing you’ve argued that they themselves have not argued at some point in their lives, so you’re headed for disappointment if you think that tautologies and Christian truisms are going to do anything here.

              As for the quote of yours I started with: You said from the beginning that you had a lot of questions. So far I’ve seen little evidence of that, but I’ll trust you. That you can acknowledge the similar ways in which otherness might be perceived by different groups or belief systems is great, and in fact is a really great starting point, if you truly have questions about your faith. And I believe it’s what some of the other commenters were getting at earlier: How do you soundly—and that’s the operative word—defend your own point of view when identical arguments can be made by countless other faith systems? I’m not telling you it can’t be done. I’m telling you that you haven’t done it yet.

              I predict that your immediate response will be to again say that athiests do the same thing, to which I preemptively advise to re-read Custador’s and others’ getting at the difference between believing something with no credible evidence and not believing something with no credible evidence.

              Also, I will try to be careful with this next comment because I generally refrain from making these kind of criticisms when I see attempts at legitimate discussion, but since you have categorized yourself as an “academic” to defend your credibility in this discussion, and since a few times you’ve resorted to name-calling and base retorts and beginning your comments with “hahaha” (pretty obnoxious), I think it’s fair: I don’t think I know anyone who majored in the humanities or related fields who so consistently mistakes confuses “you’re” with “your.” Once or twice can be a typo, but more than that is questionable, unless you’re not a native English speaker (in which case, disregard). Please be aware that I am NOT saying that to criticize your intelligence—not everyone is a language person (I have a hard time with math). Rather, I’m questioning whether “academic” is really an good way for you to defend your credibility. In a forum where lots of people have degrees, including advanced degrees, it may end up hurting your credibility rather than helping it. For the record, degrees don’t necessarily mean anything, and the discussions here certainly don’t require them.

          • Crowclown

            Atheist were never the “new kids in the block”. And majority does not means truth. even if people didn’t know America existed before 1492, even if people belived that witch were real, that does not make it true.

            • Justin

              Yeah your a recent phenomenon historically speaking. Know your history please, before uttering other insane inaccuracies.

            • Francesco

              How is atheist a “recent phenomenon”, please explain. I do not see many differences between our atheism and the one of some greek philosopher.

            • UrsaMinor

              History? You mean like Diagoras of Melos? Or Theodoros the Atheist of Cyrene?

              Seriously, Justin, are you for real or is this a Poe?

          • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

            Argument from tradition? Really? Alrighty then: How come, in a fourteen billion year old universe, the archaeological evidence says that your God didn’t exist even as a story until around three thousand years ago?

            Now please go away and have a good long read about scientific method. Unless you want to disprove Buddhism for us of course – because you are the new kid on the block compared to them.

            In a nutshell, your argument is: If something is widely believed, even if it’s a lie, provided it’s a lie that was made up a long, long time ago we should acce3pt that it’s true without evidence, and we should demand proof that it isn’t true from anybody who refuses to believe it without said evidence. And you’re wrong.

          • Hamish Milne

            @Justin
            That is true, however you are assuming that religion has followed the scientific method.

            Someone makes a hypothesis
            Someone finds evidence for or against it
            With sufficient evidence, a hypothesis becomes a theory
            As theories gain evidence, people decide to build on them with new hypotheses
            The strongest, and only the strongest theories are considered ‘fact’ by the scientific community, thus requiring stronger evidence to disprove.
            If a theory is disproved, any other theories that include it must be reconsidered.

            Right, now this is how religion works:

            Start of with a normally imperceptible deity: a hypothesis that, at it’s most basic level, cannot be disproved (well, possibly with quantum physics, but that’s another story)
            Add a number of hypotheses, building on the first and citing the first as evidence or even ‘proof’. As there are no competing theories, they all become popularly accepted.
            Now we can declare anything we like as ‘truth’.
            Oh, and ensure to disparage, ostracize or kill anyone who expresses a competing theory.
            If any manage to slip through the net, find more ‘proof’ by citing other people’s corroborating experiences that are strangely imperceptible to everyone else.
            In the face of concrete contradictory arguments, remove your entire set of theories from rationality by declaring them to be based on ‘faith’ i.e. completely un-disprovable by rational argument. However, still use them in your own rational arguments.

            Summary: religion is not science. Science cannot disprove religion, because it is based on god and faith, both of which, by definition, cannot be disproved. You can either continue to believe everything religion tells you, or break free and contribute to the advancement of society.

          • Bill

            So you don’t want to convince me your god exists? That’s cool, but it makes me wonder why you’re here.

            As to disproving the existence of god, proving a negative isn’t really possible. But in a nutshell it boils down to the fact the rational people don’t believe in the existence of things for which there is no evidence.

            Also, you’re incredibly arrogant in case you didn’t know that.

      • vasaroti

        For pity’s sake.. you said you have a BA, so please tell us where you got it from, so that I can warn all the teenagers I know. What college (and high school) let you out the door without learning :
        your
        you’re
        their
        they’re
        These words are not interchangeable. I won’t even start on your punctuation errors.

  • Steve

    My negative impression of churches began early in life. I grew up in a small town with churches on every block practically. There was a Primitive Baptist church right next door to our house. Every Sunday there would be cars all over the street, and the preacher would be screaming about fire and brimstone at the top of his lungs. Since they had no air conditioning, we could hear everything in the summer. Many times my parents would have to ask them to not park on our driveway, and the church even tried to claim that part of our property belonged to them. In a nutshell, they were horrible neighbors, and total assholes. My parents claimed to believe in God, but never attended any church, and pretty much let me believe whatever I wanted. I grew up with the idea that “Christian” meant “nasty backwards moron,” and nothing has ever dissuaded me from that impression to date.

  • http://sixmetamorphoses.blogspot.com/ Jordan

    That was a real disconnect I experienced in Christianity as well. I have heard some of the sweetest, nicest people I know say some of the most hateful and brutal things I’ve ever heard.

  • MahouSniper

    I am left with two questions.

    1) How many “final” posts did Justin write?
    2) What percentage of his posts started with “Hahaha”?

    • Hamish Milne

      14 posts, 5 of them with ‘Hahaha’ so 36%

    • http://theskippyreview.wordpress.com Skippy

      When I saw that this post had over a hundred comments, I just knew that some godbotherer had stopped by to spew his/her not-so-unique brand of theistic drivel.

  • http://godconfusion.blogspot.com Xanthe Wyse

    My parent’s church split because of politics – too many egos with everyone wanting to be the leader & centre of attention. I couldn’t help but feel smug when I heard that, after years of my mother pleading me to ‘come back to jesus before it’s too late.’
    My brother-in-law who attends the same church as them hasn’t spoken to them in over a decade. Happy families.

  • Sayingwhatneedsaying

    All I can do is smile…. at the Epiphany.

  • Shirl

    Yeah you know Justin’s playing with you guys because he knows you can’t prove a negative and he is a total ass! There’s no evidence to suggest Jehovah exists, but in order that anything is here at all something MUST exist – and that is just a “Something” which some idiots interpret as a higher being or God, and this God treats us all badly. Why? We are all sinners, we are all equally worthless – WRONG.. the Church treats people badly so it can control their behaviour, their minds and ultimately their finances.

  • http://mikemesserli.blogspot.com Mike

    very sad story. it’s tragic that the one place you should be loved often treats you the worst. I am sorry you were treated this way. very sad indeed.

  • Silicon.Shaman

    You asked:

    Why are Christians the most malicious people I’ve ever met?

    If this pagan and therapist might make an observation, that’s probably because so many malicious and mean people hide their true nature behind false piety. Some really, really, bad people pretend very hard to be beyond reproach, a mostly succeed in fooling people.

    Thus, it comes as little surprise that your former church leaders were [possibly] embezzling funds.. nor that people who didn’t want to admit they’d been taken in, supported them and ostracised you.

    Human nature… it sucks at times.

  • paul Otway

    I was once was kicked out of the Apostolic church because the pastor who also was the local probation officer was accusing me on behalf off his clients. Also for not putting enough money in the offering basket. I was working at the church farm where I was assaulted just because I spent time in a sheltered workshop and I was starting the fight The who assaulted got away with it because his father was on the local council . They said that called another worker a black bitch I never did.

  • ex-pastor

    A – fucking – men

    I gave 29 years of my life to the church – was a mega pastor – when I needed church the most – it wasn’t there.

    If you feel like you need to go to church – fine – but at least start tithing outside the church to the broken and needy of this world.

  • Joe White

    Many atheists I’ve talked to consider their nonbelief to be ‘scientific’ . Isnt it somewhat illogical to ask for natural evidence of the supernatural?

    In the same way, its illogical to say “I dont believe in God because of what (human persons name) has done.”


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X